JOURNAL ARTICLE

Is there a role for insulin-like growth factor inhibition in the treatment of COVID-19-related adult respiratory distress syndrome?

Bryan J Winn
Medical Hypotheses 2020 August 7, 144: 110167
32795835
Adult respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) is the leading cause of death associated with SARS-CoV-2 infection and COVID-19. IGF-1 has been implicated in ARDS, yet its role in relation to COVID-19-related lung injury has not been investigated. We hypothesize that blockage of the IGF-1 receptor (IGF-1R) mitigates lung injury and decreases the risk of death in patients COVID-19-related ARDS. Patients with fibroproliferative ARDS have been shown to have increased IGF-1 and IGF-1R staining in lung tissue specimens. Rising levels of IGF-1 in bronchioalveolar fluid (BAL) and increased IGF-1 mRNA expression in lung tissues (but declining serum IGF-1 levels) have been found in late stage ARDS compared with early lung injury. Blockage of IGF-1R decreases lung tissue damage and increases survival in bleomycin-induced as well as H1N1 influenza-related lung injury in animal models. Teprotumumab is a monoclonal antibody directed against the IGF-1R that was FDA-approved in 2020 for the treatment of Graves' orbitopathy. In order to determine if teprotumumab may reduce lung injury and death related to ARDS in the setting of COVID-19, preliminary clinical data is needed. IGF-1 levels in serum and BAL fluid must be measured in patients with COVID-19-related ARDS. Histopathology from lung samples from patients with COVID-19-related ARDS must be examined for increased expression of the IGF-1R. Once these are ascertained, and if the data support IGF-1 involvement, a randomized, placebo-controlled phase 2A trial of teprotumumab therapy in the setting of COVID-19-related ARDS and non-COVID-19-related ARDS designed to generate initial data on short-term efficacy, safety, dosing and administration should be performed.

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